Against the wishes of his parents, boyish Robinson Crusoe leaves his home in England to sail to Africa on a trading ship. After a rough voyage, the crew arrives on the African coast and trades its English calico for ivory and hides. Loaded with merchandise, the ship departs for England, but is ambushed by pirates, who sell the crew as slaves in Morocco. Crusoe becomes the personal slave to a Moorish sea captain, but eventually escapes in an open boat and is picked up by a Portugese ship. During a terrible storm, the ship is destroyed and Crusoe washes up on a tropical island. The sole survivor of the wreck, Crusoe uses his wits to fashion an existence on the apparently deserted island. Years later, however, Crusoe discovers a group of cannibals on the island and later rescues one of the tribe from death. Naming him Friday, Crusoe befriends the cannibal and teaches him Western ways. In exchange for saving a stranded English captain from his mutinous crew, Crusoe and Friday secure passage on his ship and happily return to Britain.
According to a news item, the subtitles of the film were to appear simultaneously with the picture, without interruption. In late 1916, or early 1917, Universal released a three reel film also called Robinson Crusoe. According to modern sources, George Marion directed the Savage production. Among the many other film adaptations of Defoe's novel are: United Artists' 1932 Mr. Robinson Crusoe, starring Douglas Fairbanks and directed by Edward Sutherland; the 1954 Mexican film The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, starring Dan O'Herlihy and directed by Luis Buñuel; the 1964 Paramount film Robinson Crusoe on Mars, directed by Byron Haskin (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70; F6.4141); and the 1975 British film Man Friday, starring Peter O'Toole and directed by Jack Gold.